by Spenser Garber
President Barack Obama went into the State of the Union address with approval ratings lower than ever, according to Gallup polls. Without many big changes in his presidency, other than Medicare, his staff is exhausted and their morale is low. The President said a lot of things but nothing too profound. This State of the Union address was a long one, coming in at 1 hour and 5 minutes.
The guest of honor for the night was Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger Sergeant First Class that was injured in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan on his tenth deployment. He received a standing ovation from everyone in the crowd and the longest applause of the night.
Obama spoke quite a bit about our military overseas. He brought up the point that all of our troops are out of Iraq, even though our involvement in the Iraq war officially ended on Dec. 18, 2011. It’s old news.
He also mentioned that more than 60,000 troops are out of Afghanistan, which is true. All we have to do is wait for Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, to sign a document to formally remove all United Kingdom and U.S. troops from his country.
Just because these men and women are back home, however, does not mean hardship has stopped in these countries. Strife still occurs every day because of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
While the President did speak a while on the military, he avoided the topic of gun control. Obama mentioned Sandy Hook, mall shootings and movie theater shootings, but it was obvious he wanted to elaborate on the subject. He never did. He must know deep inside that he could never control the American peoples’ right to own a firearm.
One surprisingly correct statement was that the U.S. has produced more oil at home than its imported in the past 20 years. The amount of oil we import has actually been steadily decreasing since 2005. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 33 percent of our oil is imported.
What we do need to understand is that we can’t fully depend on domestic oil. That’s not how a global economy works, and the free trade market is a great way to keep countries from attacking each other.
Later in his address, Obama talked about renewable energy. He stated that every four minutes another home or business goes with solar power. This statement has turned out to be true. Last year, 132,000 solar cell installations were made, which makes the average about one every four minutes.
Obama also claimed that the U.S. has reduced carbon pollution more than any other nation. This information is a sort of half-truth. In the past eight years, the U.S. was the world’s leader in reducing carbon emissions in terms of country size, according to the EIA. But in reality, Greece was the leader in reducing carbon emissions when put into the proportional sizes of the countries.
Another big talking point of the night was jobs. Obama made the true statement that the country has had the lowest unemployment rate in over five years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in December 2013 was 6.7 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January 2010.
While it is nice to see the unemployment rate so low, you will never see an unemployment rate of zero percent. It’s a statistical impossibility. This is especially true when welfare programs can be so good to people without a job.
For the Americans who do have jobs, their minimum wage is 20 percent lower than when Ronald Reagan’s first State of the Union address, according to Obama. This is mostly true, as the number is closer to 16 percent.
The President did make a very lofty claim that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 77 cents. This information is true, but misguided. The 2011 Census report does back up this information, but it covers all jobs, not specific job fields. This means that wages could be compared between a stock broker and a teacher. Those statistics don’t hold much weight.
After Obama’s speech, the Republican response was given by Cathy McMorris Rodgers. While she talked for a good 20 minutes, she said nothing of great importance. She avoided any statistics or facts. Everything that was said was more from an emotional standpoint than an analytical standpoint.